Disney’s white-gloved paws, once only loosely clasped onto the coattails of Hulu, have now fully encircled the streamer. Per Variety, Disney now has full operational control of Hulu, having inked a fluid deal with Comcast that contains a myriad of possibilities for the streamer’s future. The good news, though, is this: For now, Hulu’s original series—stuff like The Handmaid’s Tale and Shrill—aren’t going anywhere, nor are next-day episodes of SNL, This Is Us, or any shows streaming on the platform.
To quote Variety:
Under the deal, Comcast’s NBCUniversal will continue to license content to Hulu through late 2024. However, as soon as next year, NBCU will have the right to pull back programming previously licensed exclusively to Hulu (continuing to make it available to Hulu on a nonexclusive basis for a reduced licensing fee). And by 2022, NBCUniversal will have the right to cancel most of its content-licensing agreements with Hulu. NBCU is planning to launch a free, ad-supported streaming service next year.
Comcast/NBCU will retain its 33% ownership interest in Hulu. As early as January 2024, Comcast can require Disney to buy NBCU’s interest in Hulu. By the same token, Disney can require NBCU to sell its interest to Disney for its fair market value at that time, the companies announced Tuesday.
Basically, nothing will change right now, but it’s likely Hulu will look a lot different once it’s fully bundled with ESPN+ and the forthcoming Disney+ streaming service in a few years. As Indiewire notes, Hulu will also become home to FX, which is also owned by Disney. While several FX series, including Atlanta, are currently streaming on Hulu, others are exclusive to the likes of Netflix and Amazon. That will apparently change, as FX chief John Landgraf said today that FX’s content “belongs on Hulu.”
At the MoffettNathanson Media & Communications Summit in New York today, Iger ominously added, “We’re prepared to pivot in a new direction… and we’ll see what happens.” Eep.